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Book III

Then said I: Now thou hast ended the sayings which thou hast selected from these two books, yet hast not answered me about what I last asked thee, to wit, about my intellect. I asked thee whether, after the parting of body and soul, it would wax or wane, or whether it would do both as it before did.

R. Did I not say to thee before that thou must seek it in the book which we then spake of? Learn that book, then thou wilt find it there.

A. I do not care now to study all that book; but I would that thou tell me that[A break in the MS.] ... the glory of the good, that their own torment may seem the more to them, because they would not by their Father's advice merit the same honors while they were in this world. And the good see also the torments of the wicked in order that their own glory may seem the more. The wicked see God as the guilty man who is condemned before some king; when he seeth him and his own dear ones, then seemeth to him his punishment the greater. And so also the dear ones of the king see their punishment, so that their honors always may seem to them the greater. No man ought to suppose that all those that are in hell have like torments, nor that all those that are in heaven have like glory; but every one hath according to his merits, punishment as well as glory, whichever he is in. The like have their like. Moreover, it is not to be supposed that all men have like wisdom in Heaven; for every one hath it in the measure which he here merited. As he toileth better here and better yearneth after wisdom and righteousness, so hath he more of it there; likewise more honor and more glory. Hath it now been clearly enough explained about wisdom and about the vision of God?

A. Yea; truly enough I believe that we need not lose aught of the wisdom which we now have, although the soul and the body part. But I believe that our intellect shall thereby be very much increased, though we can not all know before Doomsday what we would know. Howbeit I believe that after Doomsday naught will be hidden from us, neither of that which is in our days, nor of that which was before us, nor of that which shall come after us. Thou hast now related to me many examples, and I myself have seen in the writings of the sacred books more than I can reckon, or even can remember. Thou didst show me also such reliable testimony that I can do nothing else but believe it; for if I believe not weaker testimony, then know I very little or naught. What know I except that I wish we knew about God as clearly as we would? But the soul is weighed down and busied with the body so that we can not, with the eyes of the mind, see any thing just as it is, any more than thou canst see at times the sun shine, when the clouds shoot between it and thee, although it shineth very brightly where it is. And even though there be no cloud between thee and it, thou canst not see it clearly just as it is, because thou art not where it is; nor can thy body be there; nor can thy bodily eyes come any nearer there, nor even see that far. Not even the moon, which is nearer us, can we see just as it is. We know that it is larger than the earth, and yet it doth not seem at times larger than a shield on account of the distance. Now thou hast heard that we can not with the eyes of the mind ever see any thing of this world just as it is; yet from the part of it which we see we must believe the part which we do not see. But it is promised us beyond any doubt that, as soon as we come out of this world and the soul is released from the prison of the body, we shall know every thing which we now desire to know, and much more than the ancients, the wisest of all on the earth, could know. And after Doomsday it is promised that we may see God openly—yea, see Him just as He is; and know Him ever afterwards as perfectly as He now knoweth us. There shall never be any wisdom want toing us. He who granteth us to know Himself will conceal naught from us. Howbeit we shall know then all that we now wish to know, and also that which we do not now wish to know. We shall all see God, both those who here are worst, and those who here are best. All the good shall see Him, to their comfort, and joy, and honor, and happiness, and glory; and the wicked shall see Him just the same as the good, though to their torment, for they shall see [Omission in the MS.] ... might or could in this world, or whether they had any remembrance of the friends whom they left behind in this world.

Then answered he his own thoughts and said: Why supposest thou that the departed good who have full and complete freedom shall know what they wish to know, either in this present life or in that to come? Why supposest thou that they have no memory of their friends in this world, inasmuch as the wicked Dives feared the same torments for his friends in hell as he had merited? It was he whom Christ spake of in His Gospel that besought Abraham to send Lazarus the beggar to him that he, with his little finger, might place a drop of water on his tongue and therewith cool his thirst. Then said Abraham: 'Nay, my son; but consider that thou didst withhold from him all comforts when ye were both in the body, thou having every good, and he every misfortune. He can not now do more for thy comfort than thou wouldst then do for him.' Then said the rich man: 'Abraham, if that can not be, send him to my five brethren who are still on the earth where I was, that he may tell them in what punishment I am, and may admonish them to take warning not to come hither.' Then said Abraham: 'Nay, nay; they have the books of the holy Fathers with them on earth. Let them study them and believe them. If they do not believe them, neither will they believe Lazarus, though he come to them.'

Now we can hear that both the departed good and the wicked know all that happeneth in this world, and also in the world in which they are. They know the greatest part—though they do not know it all before Doomsday—and they have very clear remembrance of their kin and friends in the world. And the good help the good, every one of them another, as much as they can. But the good will not have mercy on their wicked friends, because the latter do not wish to depart from their evil, any more than Abraham would not pity the rich man who was his own kin because he perceived that he was not so humble to God as he ought rightly to be. The wicked, then, can neither do their friends nor themselves any good, because they were formerly, when they were in this world, of no aid either to themselves or to their friends who had passed away before them. But it shall be with them even as it is with men, who are in this world brought into the prison of some king and can see their friends all day and ask about them what they desire, albeit they can not be of any good to them, nor the prisoners to them; they have neither the wish nor the ability. Wherefore the wicked have the greater punishment in the world to come, because they know the glory and the honor of the good; and all the more because they recall all the honor which they had in this world; and moreover they know the honor which those have who shall then be left behind them in this world.

Howbeit the good, then, who have full freedom, see both their friends and their enemies, just as in this life lords and rulers often see together both their friends and their enemies. They see them alike and know them alike, albeit they do not love them alike. And again the righteous, after they are out of this world, shall recall very often both the good and the evil which they had in this world, and rejoice very much that they did not depart from their Lord's will, either in easy or in hidden things, while they were in this world. Just so some king in this world may have driven one of his favorites from him, or he may have been forced from the king against both of their wills; then hath he many torments and many mishaps in his exile, yet he may come to the same lord whom he before was with, and there be much more worshipful than he was. Then he will recall the misfortunes which he had there in his exile, and yet not be the more unhappy. But I myself saw or [believed] what more untrustworthy men told me than those were who told what we are seeking. Must I not needs do one of two things—either believe some men or none? Methinks now that I know who built the city of Rome, and also many another thing which existed before our day, all of which I can not sum up. I know not who built the city of Rome for the reason that I myself saw it. Nor even know I of what kin I am, nor who my father or mother was, except by hearsay. I know that my father begat me and my mother bare me, but I do not know it because I myself saw it, but because it was told me. Howbeit not so trustworthy men told that to me as those were who said that which we now for a long time have sought for; and still I believe it.

Therefore methinks that man very foolish and very wretched who will not increase his intelligence while he is in this world, and also wish and desire that he may come to the eternal life, where nothing is hid from us.

Here end the sayings which King Alfred collected from the book which we call in....


Saint Augustine

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